Why I Trust Johnson’s Baby

I mentioned in a previous post that one of the best employers I’ve had was Johnson and Johnson.  Previous to J&J, I never had an emotional connection to an employer.  There was a glimmer of hope in my first job but after just 5 months, the dream company had merged with a big, bureaucratic, hierarchy-obsessed bank and my dreams were dashed.  After that, I was thrust into the world of FMCG, where profit was king.

In J&J, it became a different kind of FMCG world.  I was introduced to their Credo, which the company truly took to heart.  In the first part of the Credo, it states that the consumers come first (mothers, fathers, babies, doctors, nurses — anyone using their products).  Next is the community, third the employees and surprisingly, last would be the stockholders.  They believe that if you make consumers happy, the profits will follow.  This was literally the opposite of the company I worked for prior to J&J.  In that company, the mission clearly stated that stockholders came first before consumers and it really showed in the way decisions were made.

I went through a culture shock in J&J because they really spent money launching (the year I entered was the Credo’s 60th year) and living the Credo – something that does not directly generate revenue.  They even have annual anonymous Credo surveys (they were like exams to review your knowledge of the Credo) with questions asking if you knew of anyone who was acting unethically.  (It made whistle-blowing very easy.  I have often thought of proposing the Philippine government to adopt this.)

In Marketing, the Credo was our ultimate yardstick in developing products and our communications.  That being said, I was truly in disbelief when I received an email from the Environmental Working Group talking about the presence of formaldehyde in Johnson’s Baby products.  Because of the seriousness of the concern, my friends in marketing organized a lunch with the J&J Regional R&D head Robert Kwon, the pediatric dermatologists of the Philippines led by Dra. Dizon, a few of us bloggers and some magazine editors.

*Read the related posts of Chronicles of a Nursing Mom and Mommyfleur

Image from adclassix.com

Here are my new learnings from the discussions as well as my own learnings from working in J&J:

1. Only the Johnson’s Baby Shampoo contains the ingredient that naturally emits formaldehyde.  Even then, it shouldn’t be a cause for alarm.

  • Formaldehyde is ever-present in our lives, including food (like apples, bananas, etc.)
  • The amount of formaldehyde released from consuming 1 banana is 1,000x higher than the formaldehyde exposure from 1 shampoo.

There is 1,000x more formaldehyde released from eating a banana vs. a shampoo with the formaldehyde-releasing ingredient. Photo from freepik.com

2. Clinically-tested is different from Clinically Proven Mild.
  • Clinically-tested just means the product was tested.  It doesn’t say what tests it passed or failed.  A lot of products say “clinically-tested” on their labels.  Be wary of that.
  • Johnson’s Baby products are Clinically Proven Mild.  They undergo stringent tests where ALL test subjects have to pass 6 strict tests on toxicity, irritation, sensitization, etc.
3. J&J has a strict Quality Assurance system.
  • Suppliers and ingredients are tested strictly on the said tests above.
  • I know this because I’m currently a supplier for the marketing side.  For us, they are very strict already and they are even more strict with the manufacturing side.
With the discussions, I confirmed that my loyalty wasn’t blind and emotional.  It was backed by evidence too.  J&J would not allow anything harmful, especially to babies, to be in their products.  This formula has actually been around for more than 100 years.  That’s 100 years worth of in-product use tests on actual babies.  Despite knowing its products are safe, J&J has shown that they still listen to moms.  The Environmental Working Group praised them recently for being a “company that really listens to its customers” by committing to remove the ingredient that emits formaldehyde.  EWG is encouraging other FMCG’s like P&G, Unilever, L’oreal, etc. to do the same.
The lesson is, moms shouldn’t worry about Johnson’s Baby products — based on the evidence presented and based on my own experience with the company.  It’s a caring, honest, decent company that sincerely puts customers first.  I wouldn’t continue to believe in it this much, even after 8 years of leaving it, if it wasn’t so.
NOTE: I think moms should be more worried about the water you bathe your babies in because that’s where the harmful stuff is and you just can’t see it.  There are so many carcinogenic by-products of chlorine and contaminants found in the water — like manganese, barium and even uranium!   (See the report done on San Diego’s water.  I will research on Manila.).   That stuff is a lot more scary for your babies’s skin and health but the media and advocacy groups aren’t focusing on it.  Let me talk about that more on a future post.
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5 Responses to Why I Trust Johnson’s Baby

  1. Eliza says:

    Correct. (A woman of a few words)

  2. Cha says:

    Yes, the phase out of dangerous chemicals is laudable, but the issue of US consumers (from what I read) is that the J&J products sold in jurisdictions with stricter requirements (i.e., Europe) are without these dangerous chemicals while those sold in the US (and Philippines!) still have these dangerous chemicals. Why continue selling these products in jurisdiction without or with less strict regulations when apparently they can manufacture the same products without dangerous chemicals right now?

    Despite my disapproval, the husband still uses J&J baby shampoo. Ü

    • ocmominmanila says:

      I read that too and it was also a concern when I read it. However, Robert Kwon, the R&D head explained to us that :

      1. First and foremost, their concern is consumer safety — so their products on their own are safe and I believe this. Most things have formaldehyde. It was just sensational to zero in on Johnson’s Baby because it deals with babies. Notice, they don’t make that much stink about the products of Unilever, Loreal and P&G.

      2. However, they still have to comply with regulatory requirements of other countries thus they had to remove said product for those countries that required it, not because of consumer safety.

      3. Now, though, because I guess the clamor is just too much from consumers, they decided to make the global formulation change. Coming from a corporate setup, I can understand how difficult this undertaking can be. To change a simple word on a label locally takes months, moreso if it’s a formulation change.

      Wait, your husband uses Johnson’s Baby Shampoo??? Why? Hahaha.

  3. Cel says:

    I use both shampoo and wash on my baby. I thought of changing it to another brand but I always end up buying J&J stuffs. :)

  4. Pingback: May is the Month Where I Make My Self-Improvement List | OC Mom in Manila

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